Life is full of suffering; but its also full of the overcoming of it – Hellen Keller
Have you ever been faced with a situation that needed you to be generous or giving yet your situation was wanting/ your resources meagre? When someone expects you to give yet you have less than what is needed or required of you because all you know is anguish, grief and setbacks? Such was the plight that this lady (the widow of Zarephath) faced.
1 Kings 17:8-25
Biblically, widows received special attention and respect because they had experienced profound grief and loss ( Isaiah 1:17). Since God is a protector of widows, we are also called upon to not abuse widows and orphans as such vulnerable people deserve our care, concern and honor as they deal with lifes setbacks. God expects us to support them emotionally with friendship and also materially.
Interesting enough, this lady was not known by her name, or her husband’s surname – she was known by where she was from. A name by any other gives a person a sense of identity but sadly we do not know this lady by any name. Perhaps the anonymity makes it easier for women facing similar challenging situations to identify with her plight and be encouraged in God’s ability to provide for a destitute widow.
Her struggles were primarily three fold:
- Death and grief of her husband leaving her to be the breadwinner..technically men were and still are tasked with providing for the family.
- Providing for both herself and her boy in a time of a severe 3 year drought with meagre resources was very challenging (when Elijah comes her way she mentions she has only a little oil and flour in her reserve to make her final meal so she and her boy could die)
- Having no other family member or a friend to care for her making her poverty very acute and her loneliness saddening (human nature is to always need someone to talk to about life struggles). As a widow, her needs were much more than basic food and sustenance. She needed companionship as well.
In spite of her struggles, this widow was very hospitable towards Elijah the prophet – she was accomodating and welcoming to her house. Much as she had little to herself, she extended her last meal to him as per his request. This very grace that she extended to him, she was extended to as well by a God that she did not even believe in herself;she was a pagan widow (1 Kings 17:14 – the jar of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth). Her unquestionable generosity saved not just her, but her son as well!! This extended grace symbolizes the suffiency of a God that extends outpouring love and mercy to those who have profound faith in his ability.
Generosity is like a wonderful boomerang – it always comes back. Acts of generosity happen to us every other day – someone buys you a gift when you least expect it, or buys you lunch, or offers to pay you bus fare, or goes out of their way to do something thoughtful. We should not however give expecting something in return – God cares and continually grants us exactly what we need in the most unexpected of ways and using the most unexpected of persons. The gift of gratitude combined with generosity, increases God’s presence in our lives..and if God is all we have in times of trouble, then we have all we need.
“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” Matthew 6:34